Rajat Sharma

Who is sowing seeds of hatred between Muslims and Hindus ?

AKBOn Friday, when millions of Muslims across India peacefully offered Jummatul Vida prayers inside and outside mosques, there were two loud voices of discord from two experienced politicians. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, addressing a huge Friday prayer gathering at the famous Mecca Masjid near Charminar, Hyderabad, became emotional and alleged that Muslims were being threatened, but they would not cow down and fight.

Owaisi said, ‘Listen Modi and Amit Shah. We will not bow before you. We are those who bow before Allah, and Allah is enough for us’. He mentioned the recent riots in Khargone, MP, and said Muslims are not afraid of death. “You must have seen the video from Haryana where an elderly Muslim’s beard was caught by a go-rakshak (cow vigilante)…If Allah takes our life, we will die, but if he does not, then we shall live. We shall wait. You demolished our homes, but Allah will not wait.

Owaisi said, “ Whatever happened in Delhi and Khargone, we will join hands and help our brothers….BJP has started a wave of hatred against Muslims, but all of you, be patient. We must remain strong and united. We must fight this injustice Constitutionally….BJP wants to force us to take up weapons, but we shall not. Do you know what is our weapon? These are our two hands which we will raise in ‘dua’ (prayer). We should not lose hope. I get calls from our brothers who tell me their homes and shops are being demolished. We will face all this with patience, so that they cannot demolish a single home.”

J&K People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Friday alleged that people are being given guns in the name of religion and loudspeakers are being forcibly removed from mosques. Speaking to reporters, the former chief minister said, “The government can’t provide jobs, control price rise, people are suffering from shortage of electricity and water, so the easiest thing for them to do is to pit the Hindus against Muslims, and raise issues like azaan loudspeakers, hijab and halal meat.” Mehbooba Mufti alleged that the BJP was trying to destroy the secular fabric of the nation and is misusing religion to destroy society.

Millions of Muslims across India replied to these voices of discord by offering namaaz prayers peacefully on the last Friday of Holy Ramzan. These visuals from Jaipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad and other cities are sure to demoralize both Owaisi and Mehbooba Mufti. There was no tension or violence, except for a few pockets. But there was politics over loudspeakers.

While most of the people offered namaaz inside mosques, in some big metros, thousands lined up on the streets outside mosques to offer prayers. In Jaipur, Rajasthan government even provided loudspeakers on the roads for the devotees to hear the prayers and sermon. All these loudspeakers were working above the permissible decibel limit fixed by the Supreme Court.

In Jaipur’s main business district, two loudspeakers were fixed on each electric pole up to a distance of more than a kilometre. The main roads were blocked for nearly two and a half hours. Police had barricaded the main roads from 11.30 am till 2 pm. The shahar kazi (city kazi) of Jaipur Khalid Usmani said, the actual Jumma prayer takes hardly 15 minutes, and there was nothing objectionable in using loudspeakers for such a brief period.

With an eye on Muslim vote bank, Rajasthan government got the main roads cleaned, sent water tankers and installed barricades and loudspeakers for the benefit of devotees. This was not confined to Congress-ruled Rajasthan only. In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, thousands of Muslims offered prayers outside the Jama Masjid at Bhopal’s Chowk Bazaar. People stood on durries and carpets laid on the open road, and offered namaaz.

Owaisi might say that the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is lenient towards Muslims, but Yogi Adityanath is a hardliner. In ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ show on Friday night, we showed visuals from Aligarh, Meerut, Lucknow and other cities of UP, where Muslims, in thousands, peacefully offered namaaz. Owaisi might say that Yogi Adityanath’s government is forcibly removing loudspeakers from mosques, but the fact is all this was done with the consent of mosque managements. Owaisi may raise issues like Akhlaque’s murder and some other stray incidents to hit out at Yogi, but he will studiously avoid mentioning how millions of Muslims peacefully offered namaaz across UP.

The reason why I showed visuals of prayers in Mumbai, Delhi, Aligarh, Bhopal, Lucknow and other cities is because, in not a single place, did any Muslim devotee tell our reporters that they were being harassed and being treated as second-class citizens. There was no sign of fear or tension among the devotees. Though most of them spoke out openly against BJP, but if we assume that they are living in a state of fear, they would not have made anti-BJP remarks on camera. But leaders like Owaisi, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah are trying to instil fear in the minds of Muslims. They are raising the BJP-RSS-Yogi bogey before Muslims but the ground reality is completely different.

At the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Owaisi was not speaking as an experienced politician, he was speaking like a moulvi, haranguing his devotees. Owaisi is trying hard to prove that Muslims in India are being harassed. Mehbooba is alleging that Muslims are not being allowed to perform their traditional rites freely, and a ‘loudspeaker agenda’ is at work. They should also listen to what the Grand Mufti of Darul Uloom Nazeer Ahmed Qasi has said. Qasmi is a known Islamic scholar. He is a Kashmiri Sunni cleric. He says that offering namaaz on the road outside mosque is prohibited in Islam. He also says that use of loudspeaker for namaaz in mosque is also prohibited in Islam.

Since it is the holy month of Ramzan and Eid-ul Fitr will be celebrated a few days from now , there must be no attempt at disturbing communal peace and brotherhood.

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